Breaking Down the Fallout from Failed Franchise Tag Deals
Matt Forte and Ray Rice got what they wanted.
Cliff Avril, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and Dashon Goldson didn't.
Both backs agreed to new contracts on the day of the NFL's deadline for players previously hit with the franchise tag to sign long-term deals, thereby avoiding playing under the dreaded one-year contract in 2012.
Per Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears inked their star runner to a four-year, $32 million deal that includes more than $18 million in guarantees. Rice received a lucrative five-year, $40 million contract from the Baltimore Ravens with $24 million guaranteed (via ESPN).
But enough about those two. What's the fallout for the clubs that failed to reach multi-year deals with their franchise players?
Detroit Lions: Cliff Avril
After talks broke down between Avril's camp and the Lions, the blossoming defensive end told the Detroit Free Press he was "kind of disappointed it didn't happen," and that he "probably won't be there" for training camp in late July.
It would be surprising if Avril sits out when the games begin, but it's never a good sign when a player misses out on critical training camp practices. As the team's franchised player, Avril is only signed to a one-year deal, meaning the Lions will likely undergo a similar arduous process with him when the 2012-2013 season is complete.
Starters Louis Delmas, Chris Houston and DeAndre Levy are just a few Lions who'll be free agents in 2013, so Detroit's front office will have its hands full and must make plenty of critical financial decisions in the near future.
How high on the priority list will Avril be?
Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe
Because of that, he can sit out of training camp without being fined, but it would be another surprising development if he misses regular-season games.
There's a chance the 2007 first-round pick gets hit with the tag again next season, but hitting the free- agent market seems more likely for Bowe. The Chiefs will have to deal with the expiring contracts of Branden Albert and Glenn Dorsey as well and aren't starved at the wide receiver position.
New England Patriots: Wes Welker
Correctly assessing Wes Welker's value isn't easy. Although he's a diminutive slot receiver, not an imposing Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald type, the guy's been as productive as any NFL wideout since 2007.
ESPN.com's Ross Tucker made an astute point about Welker on Twitter:
Tired of hearing Welker is "system" guy. EVERY team has slot receiver. Same routes. He's unstoppable. Rare/unique player.— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) July 17, 2012
He has already signed his franchise tag and will play on a one-year, $9.5 million deal in 2012. After that, there's no telling what may happen in the future for the Patriots' star pass-catcher.
Kyle Arrington, Patrick Chung, Julian Edelman and Sebastian Vollmer are all set to become free agents following this season.
Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe discussed an interesting option for the Patriots and Welker after the 2013 campaign is complete:
Another option is that the Patriots could tag and trade Welker next year, which he likely would be amenable to because it would likely get him a multiyear deal. That could be attractive to New England because it could control where he ends up.
There are many vital decisions to make in the Patriots front office.
San Francisco 49ers: Dashon Goldson
Goldson was an integral, yet somewhat underrated, aspect of the 49ers' remarkable turnaround in 2011. The safety had 67 tackles and reeled in six interceptions on one of the league's most punishing defenses.
Per the Boston Herald, Goldson told SiriusXM NFL radio, "If I have to play for the tag, I’ll play for the tag, but any guy would love long-term security. If not, I’ll still be a 49er."
Based on those comments, it's highly unlikely the team's starting free safety will miss any action in 2012.
The contract of nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga expires after this season, as does versatile tight end/fullback Delanie Walker's. Still, the 49ers are in a much more comfortable position to bring back their franchise player than other teams featured in this column.
Could San Francisco look to lock up Goldson long term after the season, or will the 49ers hit him with the franchise tag again?
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